Being exposed to freezing cold temperatures is something that most people dread and try to avoid, but many are actually exposing themselves to such conditions – and not just freezing, but subzero, extremely low temperatures!
In fact, it’s become a trend in the health and wellness world which helps with many different health conditions, known as “Cryotherapy”.
If you’ve thumbed through the pages of a fitness magazine, scrolled through your social media, or follow wellness blogs, there’s no doubt you’ve seen a new trend with wellness tips that contain the words “cryo spa”, “cryotherapy”, “whole body cryotherapy”, or similar content that focuses on cryotherapy.
But what is cryotherapy? What does it do? Is it beneficial? To find the answers to these questions and more, keep on reading.
What Does Cryotherapy mean?
Cryotherapy literally translates to “cold therapy”, and is a term that can be used to describe any treatment that involves the application or use of cold temperatures to promote healing; most commonly to ease muscle stiffness, as well as aches and pains.
If you’ve ever applied an ice pack to a twisted ankle or sat in an ice bath, you’ve practiced cryotherapy and you probably didn’t even know it. It’s also used in conventional medicine as cryosurgery, which involves using liquid nitrogen to the skin to remove medical conditions like unwanted growths, such as warts or skin tags.
The articles, headlines, and posts that you may have seen probably aren’t referring to cryosurgery or applying ice packs to the skin, however; it’s more likely that they’re referencing whole body cryotherapy.
Located at many Wellness Centers, whole body cryotherapy is pretty simple. You enter a device, known as a cryo sauna, which is a chamber that is made to withstand extremely cold temperatures.
Once you’re in, a licensed operator will fill the cryo chamber with liquid nitrogen technology to lower the temperature inside the chamber to an icy cold -200 to -300 degrees F (the temperatures vary with different cryo machines). Sessions usually last for about 1 to 3 minutes and you can exit whenever you want to.
How Does Whole Body Cryotherapy Work?
When your body is exposed to subzero temperatures, adrenaline hormones are released, which sends you into the natural fight-or-flight response.
This causes the heart to pump faster which, of course, increases the amount of blood that is pumped out into your body; particularly your core and the vital organs that it contains. The increase of blood flow enters the muscles, which helps to foster tissue repair and treat pain or soreness across the whole body.
In other words, cryotherapy encourages the body to heal itself at a faster rate. It also pumps blood into the capillaries throughout your body that may have been damaged as a result of overuse.
Is Whole Body Cryotherapy safe at cold temperatures?
Yep, it sure is! The cooling agents that are used to bring down the temperature inside the cryo sauna never actually make contact with your skin. Liquid nitrogen is used to cool the chamber, and because nearly 80 percent of the air that we breathe is comprised of nitrogen, it’s totally safe.
Plus, since the therapy only reduces your body temperature superficially, your internal body temp will remain constant throughout the duration of the treatment. Muscle Lab offers a face mask, socks, a robe, and special shoes to wear in the chamber. There are also a number of safety features on the chamber, and an operator is always present in case of an emergency.
Is Whole Body Cryotherapy Effective?
As the name describes, whole body cryotherapy involves exposing the entire body – with the exception of the head – to subzero temperatures. With this treatment, a cryo spa or cryo sauna is used.
Essentially, this spa or sauna is a metal vessel that features a glass door on the front and an opening at the top. You’d open the door, walk into the vessel, and place your head through the opening, and close the door.
Prior to starting a cryotherapy session, you would put on gloves and booties, and undress into your underwear, a bathing suit, or a loose pair of shorts and a T-shirt. The gloves and booties protect your extremities from frostbite, as the temperatures within the vessel get downright cold; in fact, they can go as low as -200 degrees F.
You’d remain in the vessel for a few minutes – usually no longer than 5, though you can exit whenever you’d like to. You may be asked to step into a space that is cooler than room temperature in order to acclimate your body to the cold to avoid shocking your system.
What are the benefits of the extreme cold in Cryotherapy?
The exact health benefits of whole body cryotherapy are still being discovered as cryotherapy becomes a more popular trend. Several studies have been and are being conducted, and the evidence is not yet conclusive; however, with that said, anecdotal evidence does suggest that cryotherapy may be able to offer the following benefits:
Pain relief and muscle repair. Cryo may be able to reduce muscle pain, as well as joint and muscle disorders, like arthritis. It is also believed that cryotherapy can help to promote faster healing for those with an intense training regimen. Two to four minutes in a cryotherapy chamber has been shown to be highly effective in treating sports injuries and sore muscles.
Improvement in your bodies ability to fight off medical and skin conditions. Many studies have shown that the extreme cold can be an effective medical treatment to different types of skin conditions like warts, atopic dermatitis, and more. In addition to easing the pain of medical conditions like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain, and nerve damage.
Reduced inflammation. Inflammation is one of the ways in which the immune system fights off infections. It can become over-active, which can lead to chronic inflammation, which can lead to a number of health issues, like diabetes, cancer, depression, arthritis, and dementia. Reducing inflammation, therefore, can help to improve your overall health and well-being, as it may be able to reduce the incidence of a number of chronic conditions.
Reduced anxiety and depression
Several studies have found that cryotherapy may be able to minimize inflammation that could lead to mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
When you’re less anxious and depressed, and when you just feel better, your mood naturally improves. Countless people say that they notice a marked improvement in the way that they feel and with their perspective on life.
Cryotherapy may also be able to alleviate or treat the incidence of migraine headaches. Although there is a very little evidence supporting the effectiveness of cryotherapy for this particular medical condition, many wellness spas have sworn by its results.
Weight loss support
Whole body cryotherapy may also be able to help to promote weight loss. According to research studies, exposure to subzero temperatures can help to boost your metabolism, as the cold can increase your metabolic rate as it returns to normal body temperature.
When exposed to extreme cold, brown adipose tissue (BAT) burns fat in order to generate energy for your body, resulting in weight loss. In one study, it was found that regular exposure to cold temperatures over a 6-week period of time helped to lower body fat by 2 percent.
Although it probably won't give you a six pack after your first visit, whole body cryotherapy may help you lose weight in those stubborn areas.
Strengthened immune system
The increase of blood circulation that occurs within the body when you’re exposed to frigid temperatures can be beneficial for your immune system, as it can support the body’s natural detoxification process.
A study indicated that regular exposure to cold treatment boosted the rate of monocytes and lymphocytes, two types of white blood cells that play a vital role in your immune system, as they help to combat foreign invaders.
Younger Looking Skin
Cryotherapy spas have been regarded as one of the natural ways to improve your overall skin condition and have younger looking skin. The cold treatment along with the increased blood flow throughout your body has been shown to be highly effective at making your skin look tighter, younger, and less wrinkles.
Looking for “Cryotherapy Near Me”?
If the above-mentioned benefits have piqued your interests and you’re thinking about exploring them, we highly recommend making an appointment at a wellness spa that offers cryotherapy in Los Angeles. We’ll be more than happy to answer all of your questions so that you can determine if cryo is the right option for you.